Monday, April 28, 2008

The Church That Endured Suffering

On this past Lord's Day, we continued our series on Jesus' letters to the 7 churches of Asia Minor housed in Revelation 2-3, by examining his letter sent to the church at Smyrna. The foundation that I was led to express to our church that needed strengthening was this thought of enduring suffering as a child of the King. For it is clear that we have been called and set apart to suffer for righteousness, and this Smyrnian church was a people that spent every day under intense persecution for their allegience to Jesus Christ.

Jesus in verse 9, gives them a commendation by telling them that he knows the circumstances that they were facing as well as the fact that this church had cruel enemies who had brought sever afflictions that produced stress and distress. They had no monetary means of survival, but yet He tells them that they are rich, which is a suggestion that they may have been in poverty in this world, but they were rich spiritually. And he tells them that he knows that there are people who come to them saying they are like them, but really they are of the synogogue of Satan. All of this has caused this church to feel the weight of this persecution and may even desire to give up. But Jesus tells them in verse 10 that whatever persecution they will face, it will last only for a little while, when he says thou shalt have tribulation for ten days. This simply means that trouble won't last always. Thank God our troubles won't last very long. Here is the sermon outline:

Thesis: we are able to perservere through our struggles due to our immense belief that our suffering is only temporary

I. Fearless in Our Suffering

-verse not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold the devil is about to throw some of you into prison that you may be tested

-the characteristics of our suffering makes our fearlessness impressive
a. Promoter of Our Suffering - behold the devil
b. Place of Our Suffering - is about to throw some of your into prison
c. Purpose of Our Suffering - that you may be tested

II. Faithful Through Our Suffering

-verse faithful unto death
-faithfulness of their Pastor Polycarp

III. Flourish Because of Our Suffering

-verse 10...and I will give you a crown of life

Friday, April 25, 2008

Responding to Anonymous

I am becoming an extremely quick fan of blogs ever since I stumbled upon the blog of one of my favorite preachers in this country, H.B. Charles of Los Angeles, CA. It was due to my intrigue with his blog that I set out to start my own blog. Because I was a neophyte when I began my blog, I failed to check the settings to ensure that any one can made a comment to one of my blog entries (here I thought that I really knew what I was doing). So after I made a comment on one of my newer blogging buddies, Pastor Kraig Pullam's post on being inspired to do better, I noticed that someone who commented under the name of anonymous let me know what I did not know, that anonymous commentors were unable to post on my blog. So whoever you are anonymous, please accept my apologies and my gratitude for bringing this to my attention.

But I want to also commend you on bringing up a couple of touchy subjects within the Body of Christ, and that is homosexuality and molestation. Both of those subjects have polarized many of our churches so much so that a lot of the pastors of our churches refuse to address the issues, probably because either they are guilty of performing these acts themselves, or they are deftly afraid to preach/teach against them because they are worried that their choir stands will empty, musicians will leave, and most of all their tithes and offerings, and don't forget Pastor's Anniversary, will suffer greatly.

For if one is desirous of pastoring with a true Prophetic voice in times such as these, then one must hear the words of the Lord given to Jeremiah in 1:8, which says, be not afraid of their faces. We as ambassadors of the most high God, can not pastor the people of God effectively if we pastor in fear. And both of these subjects, more emphatically, homosexuality has caused many a pastor to hide in fear while sitting in the "middle seat".

Since we are not to be afraid of the faces of the people and having been exhorted along with Timothy by the Apostle Paul to preach the Word when they want to hear it or when they don't want to hear it, let me answer this question by saying clearly and concisely that homosexuality is a sin and abomination against God. I am not saying this based upon my own personal views of homosexuality, but I am basing my assertion on the fact that it is wrong because scripture declares it to be so. I am not referring to the most common passage found in Genesis 19 regarding the acts of depravity performed by the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, because many scholars have since attempted to ascertain that the original language of the text is ambiguous at best. But there is a passage of scripture that refuses to be clutched in grips of ambiguity, Leviticus 18:22 which clearly says, thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is an abomination. There is no gray area there: homosexuality is wrong according to the Word of God, and that's more than enough for me.

One last word about molestation. This is a serious problem both in church and in society as a whole. We need to deal with this issue more in bible studies, men's & women's ministry meetings, youth ministry meetings, etc., because if we don't we will have a church full of hurting folk who have never had help dealing with their issues. The church is supposed to be the place where the hurting can find help for all of their ailments.

Let me know what you think!

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Church That's Lost Its Loving Feeling

On yesterday, we began our series on the 7 Churches of Asia Minor, which I have entitled Strengthening the Foundations of the Church, with a look at the first church that Jesus told the Apostle John to write to in Rev. 2:1-7, the church at Ephesus. In this letter, Jesus opens by telling them that He is the one holds the seven stars (church) in his right hand and this actually gives Him the authortiy to write this letter to them in the first place.

He begins by giving them an accomodation in verses 2-3 by telling them I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and I see that you will examine those who come to you saying that they are preachers of the Gospel to prove that they are genuine. He moves on to verse 4 when he tells them that although they have a lot going for them, they have displayed works, labor and patience, but they have lost their first love. What is the first love? Our first love is not to service of ourselves, but the first love of the Church is to the creator of the church, Jesus Christ. And the foundation that Jesus is trying to strengthen at Ephesus was to get back to doing everything you can, but make sure that you are motivated by your love for Jesus Christ. Paul says in I Corinthians 13:1, though I speak with the tongue of men and angels and have not love, you are as sounding brass and tinkling cymbols. Here is the sermon outline:

Thesis: it is only as you love Christ fervently that you can ever serve him faithfully

I. Consider Your Past Activities

-verse 5...remember therefore from where you have fallen

II. Change Your Present Attitude


III. Come Back To Your Primary Association

-verse 5...and do the works you did at first

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Strengthening the Foundation of the Church

As we continue in our theme for 2008, Becoming a People of Excellence, I pray, with the Lord's allowance, that on the next Lord's Day, I will begin a series on the letters that the Apostle John was ordered to write by the Lord Jesus, to the 7 churches that resided in Asia Minor, found in the Revelation of Jesus Christ to John chapters 2-3.

These letters give us an opportunity to observe Jesus, the great head of the church, accurately inspects each church, acknowledge their present conditions through a deified examination of their internals instead of a wordly focus on their externals. Jesus is actually giving each church an intense x-ray of its condition that at a cursory glance would appear to be case specific to that particular assembly, but it is truly meant to be considered by all of the churches of that region as well as modern-day churches as well.

We will, with the power of the Lord, examine the church of Ephesus on tomorrow. Please keep our church and me in your prayers that the lessons that the Lord has for us to learn will penetrate our hearts that our church turns from hearers to doers of the Word of God in a more excellent way.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

10 Years of Preaching

Wednesday, April 15, 1998, was a day that will forever be branded into my heart, my mind and my soul. Not because it was the deadline that good ole Uncle Sam has mandated that our taxes be filed with the IRS, but rather it was the day that my life would never be the same again. For on this warm Wednesday night, I began the journey of fulfilling the purpose that God had placed for my life before I was conceived in my mother's womb, by preaching my initial sermon from the pulpit of the historic New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, NJ. I preached a message out of Luke 23:33 entitled The Importance of Calvary. I wish I had a chance to do that message over again (LOL).

Prior to that moment, I had worked in various companies performing various jobs but never feeling like this was where I was supposed to be. However, when I finally answered the call of the Lord, two years before, I knew that this is what God had planned for my life, to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to this world.

As I allow my mind to go back to that period in my life, I will have to be honest and say that it was not an easy journey to get to my initial sermon moment. Because I was fortunate to be mentored and prepared for that moment by my Pastor, Joe A. Carter, and he made certain that I was ready for that step. For about 2 years, I had to endure a rigorous preparation schedule of study with Pastor Carter, where every week we would travel to the book store so that I could build a library of materials needed to not only preach my initial sermon, but for the sermons that would soon follow. He would make me stand in the pulput in front of him and other preachers to get a sense of pulpit presence and to ensure that I will deliver the message in a way that the people would clearly see what I was trying to convey. Each effort of delivering my message in front of him was met with severe criticism, which at that time, I thought was borderline cruelty, but in fact I am grateful that he was hard on me. Because I have seen preachers get up to preach their initial sermons and had no input nor training from their Pastors. I want young men and women who are thinking of answering a call on their life, to get with a Pastor who cares enough about the Gospel to ensure that when you stand up before the people, you have already proven that you are serious about your call.

These first 10 years have been a blur, but one thing I can be thankful for over many other things is that the best is yet to come for me and my ministry. I have been fortunate to be able to preach in many different arenas in many different states in this country, but I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of where the Lord will allow me to preach. I have been fortunate to pastor 2 congregations, but my second congregation has not even begun to realize the heights in God that we both are soon to soar to. I have been fortunate to sit at the table with great Pastors, great Politicians and great people, but greater days are ahead for me in the Lord where influence in a number of different sectors will be realized.

1998 was a great year for me, not just because of my initial sermon, but a few months after that day, the Lord allowed me to meet the woman who would soon be both my partner in ministry, but also my partner in life, my wonderful wife Penny. Thank You Lord for 1998!

130th Anniversary Celebration

This past Lord's Day, our church was blessed with the presence of my friend and brother, Rev. Claude L. White, Pastor of the Greater Faith Church Baptist of Waukegan, IL, where the late great Dr. C.L. Fairchild served as pastor for over 20 years. Pastor White preached a marvelous sermon on Genesis 6 entitled Fulfilling God's Purpose for your ministry. His attempt at exposition was a true blessing to our church and his faithfulness to his assignment was a blessing to me.

Pastor White has proven himself to be a great friend to me as we have talked about preaching, visions and our goals and aspirations for our churches. He has an awesome opportunity on the North Shore to really grow his church to be the beacon of light in that community and to be the leading pastor in advancing the Kingdom of God.

I value our friendship and look forward to it blossoming to the point where we can assist each other in promoting the name of Jesus Christ to people who have not had the privilege of allowing the Gospel to change their lives. Please keep Pastor White and the Greater Faith Church in your prayers.

Friday, April 11, 2008

130th Church Anniversary Revival

This week I have had the expressed pleasure of hosting one of my heroes in preaching, the one and only Rev. H.B. Charles Jr., who is the pastor of the historic Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church of Los Angeles, CA as our revivalist. And first of all let me tell you up front, this was probably the most anxious I had ever been in hosting a revivalist for a number of reasons. Firstly, because of my affinity for the pastor, the preacher and mostly the man that HB Charles is, but most importantly because our church is in the midst of a critical transition period where we are preparing to embark upon a relocation project that I believe will transform our church into a vibrant and relevant ministry in Northern New Jersey and his church is going through a similar relocation transition and our church really needed him to encourage and minister to our situation through the Word of God and he did not disappoint.

On each night of worship, the tone was set by an outstanding collection of pastors who lectured on the theme of our church for this year...Becoming a People of Excellence. Dr. Vernon C. Walton, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church of Englewood, Rev. Andre L. Coffee, First Timothy Baptist Church, Newark & Dr. Marion J. Franklin, First Baptist Church, Vauxhall completed their assignments with outstanding precision.

But the main course was served in such an exqusite manner that it was completely evident that the Lord had indeed sent HB Charles to our church and to me on a mission to help transform my thinking and mostly my commitment to my present preaching station with vigor. Each message was tailored made for me, especially Friday night's message out of Psalms 119: 25-32 entitled Rising Up From the Dust. That message confirmed to me that although we are down now, we are on our way out of the dust.

Thank God for HB Charles, please pray for his safe return home and for the relocation of his church.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Do You Love Jesus?

As we continued our focus for this year on Becoming a People of Excellence, the Lord led us to lift an exposition formed out of a wonderful text housed in John 21:15-17. Jesus shows up at the Sea of Tiberias and finds Peter and the other 6 disciples that were with him, in a boat fishing on the sea. Jesus asks them how many fish had they caught and they replied that they had toiled all night and caught nothing. Jesus responds and tells them to let down their nets on the side and they will catch plenty. When Peter sees that it is Jesus, he jumps in the water to hide from the Lord because of his guilt. Jesus, knowing that he had to prepare Peter for his next phase of ministry, needed to know where Peter's heart was. I dare say, that this same interrogative is being presented to the church today, Jesus Christ needs to know, before he moves us to the next phase of our ministries, do we really love Jesus. He needs to know where our heart lies before he can grant us favor in ministry. Here is the sermon outline:

Thesis: we express our complete love for Jesus Christ through our dedicated and devoted decision to serve Him without fear no matter the cost

I. How Christ Calls Peter

-Simon, son of John
-he calls him by his born name instead of the name Jesus gave him in Matthew 16, because that name represented strength and stability, which he no longer exhibited with his denials of Jesus

II. How Christ Catechizes Peter

-Do you love me more than these
-why did Jesus question Peter:

1. His fall caused Jesus to doubt his love
2. Will his function change the desire of his love

a. Do you desire your career more than you desire Jesus
b. Do you desire your companions more than you desire Jesus
c. Do you desire your collections more than you desire Jesus

III. How Christ Challenges Peter

-feed my lambs; tend my sheep; feed my sheep
-Jesus challenges Peter, that if he truly loves him, he will serve his church

1. Support Christ's Church
2. Shepherd Christ's Church
3. Shield Christ's Church